Archive for January 27, 2012


Source: Huffington Post

More than 1,100 dogs in China are waiting for new homes after being rescued from the slaughterhouse last week with the help of a blogger, who helped authorities intercept the animals while they were being transported in deplorable conditions for the purpose of human consumption, China Daily reports.

The dogs were being shipped from Southwest China’s Chonguing province to a slaughterhouse in Guandong province, a journey which would have left the dogs crammed into cages without food and water for 22 hours, according to the Daily Mail.

Luckily, a 40-year-old blogger and volunteer for the Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association who goes by name Peng spotted the dogs being shipped in stacked cages on a flatbed truck and posted a plea online to save them, China Daily reports.

Peng’s blog post tipped off animal activists and local law enforcement officials who were able to intercept the dogs, which were then taken to a pig farm in Southwest China for emergency care, according to China Daily.

A donor has since offered a 1,000 square meter warehouse to house the animals while they are nursed back to health. Local animal lovers have also donated enough food to feed the dogs for the next 20 to 30 days.

Now, volunteer activists for the Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association are searching for new homes for the animals, but say finding suitable homes for more than 1,000 dogs seems to be an impossible task.

Chen Mingcai, head of the Chongqing Small Animal Protection Association, estimated that 20 percent of the animals will be adopted locally. But the remaining dogs 800 will still need more space to live comfortably until a permanent situation can be found.

“Now I am thinking about calling for more social donations to build dog houses,” Chen told China Daily.

While consumption of dog meat is banned in most countries, some people in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines still consider the meat a delicacy. In these countries, dog meat can be found on many restaurant menus, according to Action for Our Planet.

But in China, where the consumption of dog meat has occurred in some areas for thousands of years, a growing animals rights movement has led to more activists to push authorities to crack down on the practice, the Associated Press reports.

Last April, around 200 people blockaded a truck carrying dogs to the slaughterhouse for 15 hours until they were able to negotiate the animals’ release for $17,000, according to the Associated Press.

In September, for the first time in 600 years, residents of Qianxi, China, were banned from holding an ancient dog-eating festival after public outrage erupted on the Internet, according to The New York Times.

“I believe China is going through a Chinese animal liberation movement, a bottom-up movement, gaining huge momentum in the past year, very much with the help of the Internet and [Chinese social networking site] Weibo, together with the younger generation growing up with cats and dogs as family pets,” Deborah Cao, a professor at Griffith University in Australia who studies animal rights law, told The New York Times last year.

by Radley Balko (Huffington Post)

In February of last year, video surfaced of a marijuana raid in Columbia, Mo. During the raid on Jonathan Whitworth and his family, police took down the door with a battering ram, then within seconds shot and killed one of Whitworth’s dogs and wounded the other. They didn’t find enough pot in the house to charge Whitworth with even a misdemeanor. (He was, however, charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia when police found a pipe.) The disturbing video went viral in May 2010, triggering outrage around the world. On Fox News, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer and Bill O’Reilly cautioned not to judge the entire drug war by the video, which they characterized as an isolated incident.

In fact, very little about the raid that was isolated or unusual. For the most part, it was carried out the same way drug warrants are served some 150 times per day in the United States. The battering ram, the execution of Whitworth’s dog, the fact that police weren’t aware Whitworth’s 7-year-old child was in the home before they riddled the place with bullets, the fact that they found only a small amount of pot, likely for personal use — all are common in drug raids. The only thing unusual was that the raid was recorded by police, then released to the public after an open records request by the Columbia Daily Tribune. It was as if much of the country was seeing for the first time the violence with which the drug war is actually fought. And they didn’t like what they saw.

That video came to mind with the outrage and public debate over the now-infamous pepper-spraying of Occupy protesters at the University of California-Davis protest earlier this month. The incident was just one of a number of high-profile uses of force amid crackdowns on Occupy protesters across the country, including one in Oakland in which the skull of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was fractured by a tear gas canister, and in New York, where NYPD Officer Anthony Bologna pepper-sprayed protesters who had been penned in by police fencing.

But America’s police departments have been moving toward more aggressive, force-first, militaristic tactics and their accompanying mindset for 30 years. It’s just that, with the exception of protests at the occasional free trade or World Bank summit, the tactics haven’t generally been used on mostly white, mostly college-educated kids armed with cellphone cameras and a media platform.

Police militarization is now an ingrained part of American culture. SWAT teams are featured in countless cop reality shows, and wrong-door raids are the subject of “The Simpsons” bits and search engine commercials. Tough-on-crime sheriffs now sport tanks and hardware more equipped for battle in a war zone than policing city streets. Seemingly benign agencies such as state alcohol control boards and the federal Department of Education can now enforce laws and regulations not with fines and clipboards, but with volatile raids by paramilitary police teams.

Outraged by the Occupy crackdowns, some pundits and political commentators who paid little heed to these issues in the past are now calling for a national discussion on the use of force. That’s a welcome development, but it’s helpful to review how we got here in order to have an honest discussion.

Part of the trend can be attributed to the broader tough-on-crime and drug war policies pushed by politicians of both parties since at least the early 1980s, but part of the problem also lies with America’s political culture. Public officials’ decisions today to use force and the amount of force are as governed by political factors as by an honest assessment of the threat a suspect or group may pose. Over the years, both liberals and conservatives have periodically raised alarms over the government’s increasing willingness to use disproportionately aggressive force. And over the years, both sides have tended to hush up when the force is applied by political allies, directed at political opponents, or is used to enforce the sorts of laws they favor.

How We Got Here

According to Eastern Kentucky University criminologist Peter Kraska, the number of SWAT raids carried out each year in America has jumped dramatically over the last generation or so, from just a few thousand in the 1980s to around 50,000 by the mid-2000s, when Kraska stopped his survey. He found that the vast majority of the increase is attributable to the drug war — namely warrant service on low-to-mid-level drug offenders. A number of federal policies have driven the trend, including offering domestic police departments military training, allowing training with military organizations, using “troops-to-cops” programs and offering surplus military equipment and weaponry to domestic police police departments for free or at major discounts. There has also been a constant barrage of martial rhetoric from politicians and policymakers.

Dress cops up as soldiers, give them military equipment, train them in military tactics, tell them they’re fighting a “war,” and the consequences are predictable. These policies have taken a toll. Among the victims of increasingly aggressive and militaristic police tactics: Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Md., whose dogs were killed when Prince George’s County police mistakenly raided his home; 92-year-old Katherine Johnston, who was gunned down by narcotics cops in Atlanta in 2006; 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, who was killed by Modesto, Calif., police during a drug raid in September 2000; 80-year-old Isaac Singletary, who was shot by undercover narcotics police in 2007 who were attempting to sell drugs from his yard; Jonathan Ayers, a Georgia pastor shot as he tried to flee a gang of narcotics cops who jumped him at a gas station in 2009; Clayton Helriggle, a 23-year-old college student killed during a marijuana raid in Ohio in 2002; and Alberta Spruill, who died of a heart attack after police deployed a flash grenade during a mistaken raid on her Harlem apartment in 2003. Most recently, voting rights activist Barbara Arnwine was raided by a SWAT team in Prince George’s County, Md., on Nov. 21. Police were looking for Arnwine’s nephew, a suspect in an armed robbery.*

The drug war has been the primary policy driving the trend but, since 2001, the federal government has also used the threat of terror attacks to further militarize domestic law enforcement. This includes not only finding new sources of funding for armor, weapons and gear, but also claiming new powers for the “War on Terror” that are then inevitably used in more routine law enforcement.

But paramilitary creep has also spread well beyond the drug war. In recent years, SWAT teams have been used to break up neighborhood poker games, including one at an American Legion Hall in Dallas. In 2006, Virginia optometrist Sal Culosi was killed when the Fairfax County Police Department sent a SWAT team to arrest him for gambling on football games. SWAT teams are also now used to arrest people suspected of downloading child pornography. Last year, an Austin, Texas, SWAT team broke down a man’s door because he was suspected of stealing koi fish from a botanical garden.

%d bloggers like this: